The Big 12 is a small but exciting conference. Oklahoma is a perennial contender, and Denver’s been on the rise and is coming off its highest finish in program history. Iowa State and West Virginia may not be at the level of those two programs, but both bring exciting qualities to their gymnastics as well.
The 2020 season will be here before we know it! And with preseason training in full swing, it’s time to start looking at the teams and how they might fare when the action kicks off in January—from who’s expected to compete, holes coaches need to fill, exciting upgrades you might see and more.
No. 1 Oklahoma
Oklahoma was back on top at the national championships in 2019. The Sooners have been around the top of the rankings for years, and this year should be no different, especially with Ragan Smith’s arrival.
|Losses:||Brenna Dowell (AA), Ashley Hiller, Nicole Lehrmann (VT, UB, BB), Alex Marks (UB)|
|Gains:||Vanessa Deniz, Jenna Dunn, Erin Hutchison, Ragan Smith, Brooke Weins|
|Returning From Injury:||Bre Showers (torn ACL)|
Potential Contributors: Jade Degouveia (9.915 NQS), Olivia Trautman (9.910), Anastasia Webb (9.905), Allie Stern (9.850), Maggie Nichols, Evy Schoepfer, Bre Showers, Ragan Smith, Brooke Weins, Vanessa Deniz
How It Looked Before: Vault was a strong event for the Sooners in 2019, putting up clean and consistent vaults with 10.0 start values. Even without Maggie Nichols for most of the season, the Sooners ended 2019 ranked first in the nation on the event and were the first to put up a full lineup of 10.0 start values since the devaluation of the Yurchenko full.
How It Looks Now: Brenna Dowell and Nicole Lehrmann were staples in the lineup that will be missed. However, with Nichols full back and Ragan Smith’s addition, the Sooners shouldn’t hurt for options. Of the remaining freshmen, Vanessa Deniz and Brooke Weins both sport clean Yurchenko fulls if the Sooners are in need. Bre Showers also vaulted a full before her injury in 2019, so expect her to be in the mix as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The event will, at the very least, remain consistent. It’ll be hard to top something that was already so good, but it’s looking like the Sooners should be able to replicate their success.
Potential Contributors: Maggie Nichols (9.960 NQS), Karrie Thomas (9.910), Anastasia Webb (9.900), Bre Showers, Olivia Trautman, Jade Degouveia, Vanessa Deniz, Ragan Smith, Erin Hutchison
How It Looked Before: Bars was another strong event for Oklahoma in 2019, led by Nichols, Lehrmann and Dowell.
How It Looks Now: Losing three regular lineup contributors will be tough. However, a healthy Showers will give the Sooners another bars option, something they’ll need considering most of the freshman class isn’t strong on the event. Of the freshmen, Deniz has a clean set, and Smith will be a key routine for the Sooners—a college routine construction should benefit her and allow her to score consistently well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? There shouldn’t be much fluctuation, but there’s a chance bars could be weaker in 2020 depending on how the freshmen perform. Smith’s set will be a key replacement, but the Sooners are still in need of two strong replacements from either newcomers or returners.
Potential Contributors: Maggie Nichols (9.975 NQS), Anastasia Webb (9.925), Carly Woodard (9.920), Olivia Trautman (9.870), Bre Showers, Karrie Thomas, Evy Schoepfer, Ragan Smith, Vanessa Deniz
How It Looked Before: Beam was strong for the Sooners in 2019 (do we sound like a broken record yet?). It wasn’t without its hiccups throughout the season, though, but the lineup usually managed to put up a good number.
How It Looks Now: Lehrmann and Dowell were both staples, but Oklahoma still has plenty of options without them. Evy Schoepfer and Karrie Thomas competed at times in 2019, and Brehanna Showers will be back. Smith’s set is the best of the freshmen, but Deniz’s routine gives off strong Oklahoma vibes. The rest of the freshmen have the skills but will have to work on consistency before seriously contending for a spot in the top six.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam will hold steady if not trend up in 2020. Oklahoma has the pieces, but it’s a matter of finding the most consistent and high scoring lineup.
Potential Contributors: Olivia Trautman (9.965 NQS), Jade Degouveia (9.925), Anastasia Webb (9.905), Jordan Draper (9.880), Emma LaPinta (9.825), Bre Showers, Evy Schoepfer, Allie Stern, Ragan Smith, Vanessa Deniz, Erin Hutchison
How It Looked Before: Floor was ultimately a good event for Oklahoma in 2019, but the road to get there was paved with falls and inconsistencies. The Sooners spent much of the season finding a lineup that could hit five routines without Nichols.
How It Looks Now: The only real loss comes from Dowell, who was a top scorer for the team. The rest of the contributors are still around, so Oklahoma should be in a good place in 2020. Smith will be an asset on floor, where she’ll be able to choose her best skills for success. Deniz and Erin Hutchison are solid options for the Sooners, too, so expect them also to be in the mix for lineup spots.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Oklahoma’s floor lineup should be in a good place in 2020. It’s only losing one critical routine and should be trending up in 2020.
Oklahoma is poised to have another strong year. The big question is whether the 9.9-plus holes will be filled with similar scores or lower-level 9.8s. But we’ve learned to never count the Sooners out, even when the outlook is simply average.
No. 4 Denver
Denver had a breakthrough year in 2019, finishing with its highest placement in program history and surprising many fans that hadn’t been previously following the Pioneers on their road to success.
|Losses:||Grace Broadhurst (UB), Diana Chesnok (VT, UB, BB), Claire Kern (UB), Maddie Quarles (injured, Transfer to Minnesota), Kaitlyn Schou (VT, BB, FX)|
|Gains:||Emma Brown, Amoree Lockhart, Callie Schlottman, AK Subject|
Potential Contributors: Maddie Karr (9.940 NQS), Lynnzee Brown (9.915), Mia Sundstrom (9.840), Alexandria Ruiz (9.790), Emily Glynn, Emma Brown, Amoree Lockhart, AK Subject
How It Looked Before: Vault was Denver’s weakest event in 2019. Even so, it managed to field a clean and consistent lineup topped off with Maddie Karr’s and Lynnzee Brown’s Yurchenko one and a halfs.
How It Looks Now: Kaitlyn Schou and Diana Chesnok both provided clean, consistent vaults but were nothing that can’t be replaced. AK Subject and Emma Brown both sport clean fulls, Subject’s being the more dynamic of the two. Amoree Lockhart also has a good full, so expect her to be in contention as well. However, Subject and Lockhart have both trained Yurchenko one and a halfs in the past—watch to see if Denver goes for difficulty or execution.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The newcomers don’t bring enough on vault to completely transform the event for Denver. However, it should still remain solid in 2020 if not improve slightly.
Potential Contributors: Maddie Karr (9.940 NQS), Lynnzee Brown (9.920), Emily Glynn (9.900), Alexandria Ruiz (9.865), Mia Sundstrom (9.795), Alexis Vasquez, Natalie Morton, Emma Brown, AK Subject, Amoree Lockhart
How It Looked Before: Bars was a strong and deep event for Denver in 2019. Many of its regular contributors were underclassmen, so the Pioneers should be in a good place in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Claire Kern was a consistent leadoff routine, but that’s the only real loss Denver suffers. Subject and Emma Brown both have clean bars sets that should figure into the mix. Lockhart has a solid set as well, with minor form breaks that her classmates don’t have.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Denver’s bars is trending up in 2020. It still has plenty of worthy routines at its disposal and only has to replace one set.
Potential Contributors: Alexis Vasquez (9.935 NQS), Maddie Karr (9.915), Lynnzee Brown (9.865), Alexandria Ruiz (9.850), Mia Sundstrom (9.750), Natalie Morton, Courtney Loper, AK Subject, Amoree Lockhart, Callie Schlottman, Emma Brown
How It Looked Before: Beam was one of Denver’s strongest events in 2019. The core six was strong, especially the back half of the lineup.
How It Looks Now: Kaitlyn Schou was a rock in the lineup throughout her career and became a steady anchor for the Pioneers, never falling on any event in her collegiate career. Losing that routine will be a big blow for the Pioneers but it’s the only one that will need replacing. Subject is the most likely newcomer to factor into the lineup thanks to her consistency. Lockhart has a nice set as well, and Emma Brown has the Chow’s beam you’d expect but would benefit from more consistency to become a true lineup staple. Callie Schlottman and sophomore Natalie Morton will be in the mix as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Schou was consistently one of the highest scorers, so it’ll depend on how the newcomers adapt to the lineup and what kinds of scores they are able to produce.
Potential Contributors: Lynnzee Brown (9.960 NQS), Maddie Karr (9.905), Alexandria Ruiz (9.865), Mia Sundstrom (9.825), Courtney Loper, Emily Glynn, Natalie Morton, AK Subject, Emma Brown, Callie Schlottman
How It Looked Before: Denver’s top five floor routines were great, but the sixth routine was in flux for much of the season.
How It Looks Now: The Pioneers, like on beam, are only losing Schou’s routine. Both Emily Glynn and Courtney Loper were thrown into the lineup at times in 2019, with Loper having the more successful results. Subject has a strong routine and is training a double layout while Emma Brown is also a good option. Lockhart at full strength should factor in, too; pre-injury she competed a full-in and has since gotten most of her skills back.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With the newcomers’ skill sets, floor should be trending up in 2020.
Denver’s team is small but mighty. Having just 12 team members could be a disadvantage, but the Pioneers’ plethora of all arounders will soften the blow. They’re not replacing more than two routines on any event and have a solid incoming freshman class, so it’s likely that the Pioneers can compete at a similar level as long as the freshmen pan out. The question is, does Denver have the depth and routines to match its 2019 results?
No. 20 Iowa State
Iowa State is coming off one of its best seasons in recent years. The Cyclones will look to improve again in 2020 without the presence of Meaghan Sievers.
|Losses:||Madeline Johnson (UB), Kelly Martin (VT), Meaghan Sievers (AA)|
|Gains:||Loganne Basuel, Maddie Diab, Andrea Maldonado, Jade Vella-Wright, Laurie Lou-Vezina|
|Returning From Injury:||Annie Johnson (unknown surgery), Makayla Maxwell (torn Achilles), Samantha Strickler (unknown surgery)|
Potential Contributors: Sophia Steinmeyer (9.855 NQS), Phoebe Turner (9.795), Sydney Converse (9.775), Kelsey Boychuk (9.755), Ariana Orrego (9.690), Madelyn Langkamp, Natalia Ros Vaquer, Samantha Strickler, Makayla Maxwell, Loganne Basuel, Maddie Diab, Laurie-Lou Vezina
How It Looked Before: Vault was Iowa State’s best event in 2019 thanks to Meaghan Sievers’ high scoring vault and Sophia Steinmeyer’s Yurchenko one and a half.
How It Looks Now: Iowa State returns just one vault with a NQS over 9.800. Samantha Strickler and Makayla Maxwell returning from injury will be especially beneficial. Freshman Loganne Basuel sports a clean Yurchenko full and has trained a Yurchenko one and a half in the past. Classmate Maddie Diab vaults a good Tsuk full, and Laurie-Lou Vezina will factor into the mix with her Yurchenko half-on pike half.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell if any of these vaulters will be able to replicate the scores Sievers brought in. However, this should nevertheless be a solid vault squad.
Potential Contributors: Laura Burns (9.845 NQS), Madelyn Langkamp (9.805), Casandra Diaz (9.770), Ariana Orrego, Meixi Semple, Natalie Horowitz, Sydney Converse, Laurie-Lou Vezina, Jade Vella-Wright, Loganne Basuel
How It Looked Before: Bars was the only event besides vault that finished in the top 25, but it’s graduating two of its strongest bar workers.
How It Looks Now: Bars isn’t a strong suit for most of the newcomers, so the Cyclones will have to rely on returners to fill the gaps. Vezina is the best of the freshmen; she competes a unique set that includes an Ezhova. Natalia Ros Vaquer came into the top six in the second half of 2019; Iowa State will need her to continue stepping up in 2020 as well. Finally, Basuel could be useful if she gains consistency.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? As of now, bars may ultimately trend down. It’s unclear who can fill the void of two of 2019’s best bars performers, especially with a weak freshman class on the event.
Potential Contributors: Grace Woolfolk (9.865 NQS), Sydney Converse (9.810), Meixi Semple (9.775), Molly Russ (9.770), Sophia Steinmeyer (9.770), Ariana Orrego, Casandra Diaz, Samantha Strickler, Laurie-Lou Vezina, Loganne Basuel, Maddie Diab
How It Looked Before: Beam wasn’t Iowa State’s best event in 2019, but it wasn’t its worst either.
How It Looks Now: Most of Iowa State’s lineup remains intact from last season. Grace Woolfolk became a star after an inconsistent start; expect her and Sydney Converse to lead the way in 2020. Andrea Maldonado should benefit from a college routine construction, though she does have some minor form issues. Vezina has pretty extension; expect her to factor in as well. Both Basuel and Diab have good routines but are inconsistent. They could be in the mix if they gain consistency.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Iowa State’s beam fate depends on its consistency. As long as the Cyclones hit, beam should be better in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Molly Russ (9.840 NQS), Sophia Steinmeyer (9.810), Laura Burns (9.785), Madelyn Langkamp (9.765), Casandra Diaz (9.760), Natalie Horowitz, Sydney Converse, Makayla Maxwell, Samantha Strickler, Ariana Orrego, Maddie Diab, Andrea Maldonado, Laurie-Lou Vezina, Loganne Basuel
How It Looked Before: Floor was statistically Iowa State’s worst event. Its peaks were fine, but the Cyclones also had a number of low-48 totals throughout.
How It Looks Now: Sievers was the strongest performer, and replacing her will be hard. Diab is a good option, as is Vezina. Maldonado should be in the mix, too, where a collegiate routine with less tumbling should improve her performance. Basuel is inconsistent but could be an option if needed.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell with floor. Sievers leaves a void, and it’s unclear how the freshmen’s routines will translate to college.
Much of Iowa State’s fate depends on who can step up and, more importantly, if they can show consistency. Many of the lineups remain intact, but the holes will be hard to fill. A healthy Strickler and Maxwell will help, but as of now it’s hard to picture the Cyclones improving significantly from 2019.
No. 27 West Virginia
West Virginia is coming off another steady season and will look to continue the trend in 2020. Replacing Kirah Koshinski will be tough, but the newcomers have the potential to do just that.
|Losses:||Carly Galpin (BB), Kirah Koshinski (AA), Kassidy Cumber (FX), Kristin Lang (now student coach), Jacquie Tun (AA)|
|Gains:||Emily Holmes-Hackerd, Maya Kraus, Abbie Pierson, Kayla Yancey, Kianna Yancey|
|Returning From Injury:||Julia Merwin (unknown leg injury)|
Potential Contributors: Jacquie Tun (9.810 NQS), Abby Kaufman (9.810), Rachel Hornung (9.780), Michelle Waldron (9.770), Julia Merwin (9.735)
How It Looked Before: Vault wasn’t bad for the Mountaineers, but it wasn’t great either, as most of its competitors besides Kirah Koshinski often got stuck in the 9.7 range.
How It Looks Now: Koshinski’s Yurchenko one and a half is a big hole that will need filling. Luckily freshman Abbie Pierson sports a just-as-good one and a half of her own that should immediately be a staple in the top six. Julia Merwin vaulted pre-injury, and both Yancey sisters have clean Yurchenko fulls that could come into play.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Despite losing Koshinski, it’s looking like the vault squad should be even better in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Esperanza Abarca (9.815 NQS), Sydney Marler (9.790), Kendra Combs (9.785), Abby Kaufman (9.705), Chloe Cluchey (9.690), Julia Merwin, Rachel Hornung, Abbie Pierson, Maya Kraus, Kayla Yancey, Kianna Yancey
How It Looked Before: Bars wasn’t great for West Virginia last season as it fought to find a good, consistent lineup.
How It Looks Now: Most of West Virginia’s normal lineup remains intact, graduating just Jacquie Tun’s strong set. Abbie Pierson boasts a clean and unique set that should factor in nicely. Maya Kraus has a solid bar set, as does Kianna Yancey. Yancey’s sister Kayla also has a good routine but needs consistency.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should be trending up in 2020 with the addition of new routines and the loss of just one regular contributor.
Potential Contributors: Rachel Hornung (9.800 NQS), Abby Kaufman (9.765), McKenna Linnen (9.755), Esperanza Abarca (9.680), Taylor Sell (9.455), Erica Fontaine, Sydney Marler, Abbie Pierson, Kianna Yancey, Kayla Yancey, Emily Holmes-Hackerd
How It Looked Before: The Mountaineers struggled on beam in 2019, only reaching 49 once all season.
How It Looks Now: Without Carly Galpin and Koshinski, the Mountaineers will have to find someone to step into a leadership role on the event—the only gymnast who had a better NQS was Rachel Hornung. Pierson and Kianna Yancey are the most likely newcomers to see time; Pierson’s set particularly stands out and includes a back handspring layout. Kayla Yancey and Emily Holmes-Hackerd are solid, too, but will need to be consistent if they want a place in the top six.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The West Virginia beam squad should remain consistent with 2019.
Potential Contributors: McKenna Linnen (9.840 NQS), Abby Kaufman (9.825), Rachel Hornung (9.820), Erica Fontaine (9.810), Abbie Pierson, Emily Holmes-Hackerd, Kianna Yancey, Kayla Yancey
How It Looked Before: Floor was West Virginia’s best event in 2019, headlined by Kirah Koshinski’s stellar routine.
How It Looks Now: Replacing Koshinski and Tun’s sets will be tough for the Mountaineers. Pierson is the best of the freshmen and has a double layout. Holmes-Hackerd has a clean set with an attitude turn, and Kianna Yancey is a clean option. Kayla Yancey does a double Arabian but will need to improve her consistency before she makes the lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor will likely remain even in 2020, as long as the freshmen live up to their potential.
West Virginia team should be able to stay on pace with last year’s squad. The question is, can the Mountaineers effectively replace Koshinski’s scores? Early signs point to yes.
Article by Tara Graeve
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